Sunday, June 7, 2020

Time of Storm

America, COVID-19 is here. Riots are here. Our weaknesses are exposed, exploited, and change is not only required, but needed. The storm rises and we are, as individuals, communities, as a nation, divided in our fear and responses.

photo by Corabie din carton

The night the disciples crossed Galilee without Jesus, a storm arose. Although the worked together, straining against the wind, they gained nothing. They had no control over the situation. Their efforts, though great, profited little.

Jesus, praying at the end of a long day, having just learned of his cousin John's unjust beheading, saw their distress. Mark 6:48 says that during the fourth watch of the night (6:00 a.m.), "He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them." What next? He went to them, of course. But what we may miss if we're reading too quickly, is that He intended to pass them by. They didn't perceive it was their friend, Jesus, the Son of God who just fed a multitude of people. They thought it was a ghost. They misinterpreted Jesus' person and power.

What if the disciples had not given in to fear? What if they saw Jesus for who He was? "Look! It's Jesus. How's He walking on water we can hardly get our oars in?" "Jesus, you're amazing!" "Jesus, look at you!" "Jesus, could you give us a hand? We're not going to make it on our own."

His very presence, walking on a sea that threatened to undo them, should have been enough. His deity, supernatural power and grace could have been a comfort. The reminder of His provision and loving care for the physical needs of the crowds could have encouraged their souls. Jesus knew--and came near. He didn't leave them in terror. He didn't walk by without stopping. He didn't scold or reprimand them.

But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped...

Jesus loved them in their fear. He cared for and ministered to their physical needs, their emotional, dare we even say "psychological" response to very real danger. When we are confronted by the storms of life, it's easy to forget God's blessings, provision, and character, to be swept up by our circumstances and misinterpret the nearness of God. 

More than wondering about the imminent danger of wind and waves, I ask, "What's keeping me from seeing Jesus?" What fear, what dread, what storm is interfering with my knowledge and memory of His goodness, grace, mercy and kindness? And I remember that He is not only near. He hears me. He knows my heart, my weakness, sin and frailty...and He is here in the boat.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)